120 Days | s/t (Smalltown Supersound/Vice)

cd_120days"In a trance, in a trance/ I could dance this night away," sings Meisfjord, and with texture-embedded beats like this, so could most listeners.






It's always interesting to hear a new band that's not really that different from other similar bands, but something in their attitude or energy level makes you think they're a little different. And with just a few key creative decisions, they end up positioning themselves to become more popular than the aforementioned similar bands.

In the case of Oslo's 120 Days, yet another in a long line of recent Scandinavian acts blending elements of both rock and electronica, there's panache to spare on their self-titled debut album (which recently won the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy for Best Rock Album). The CD opens with a song that's almost nine minutes long, and closes with a colossal corker of a track called "I've Lost My Vision" that breaks the 11-minute mark. Who do these guys think they are, Yo La Tengo?

No, it's more likely they think they're a Steve Reich and Kraftwerk-influenced combination post-punk, retro '80s foursome that like their beats driving, hypnotic, and long-lasting. We like that too, guys, but lucky for you that you pay such close attention to the details of your sound, or listeners might find it too easy to sum you up by listing your many predecessors.

The thing about 120 Days is that their basic formula of long instrumental intros, emotive but firmly masculine vocals (courtesy of Ian McCulloch-meets-Bono styled singer Adne Meisfjord) and heavy atmospherics works, and it works well because they pour it on nice and thick. "C-Musick" begins with a sort of guitar soup, a simmering sonic broth that burbles for a couple of moments, waiting for the chefs to bring it to full boil. When the rousing rhythm track finally kicks in, it's downright smokin'. The more synth-driven rocker "Sleepwalking"—at 3:28, the shortest track on the album—is also a very pleasant listen. "In a trance, in a trance/ I could dance this night away," sings Meisfjord, and with texture-embedded beats like this, so could most listeners.

Then you've got the feedback-laden "Be Mine," on which Meisfjord evokes Thom Yorke here and there, and the truly infectious "Keep On Smiling," where the angst-filled vocal and killer rhythm section (hats off to drum machine maestro Arne Stoy Kvalvik and bassist Jonas Dahl for efforts like this) combine to deliver the delirious indie rock goods.

"Sleepless Nights," however, is an ambient instrumental that reveals the more esoteric side of 120 Days' aesthetic. And it sets up the wallop delivered by "I've Lost My Vision," which is the album's highlight and probably destined to be a Nordic classic. There's really not that much originality going on here, but as stated earlier, these guys have 'tude and confidence to spare. And when you apply that sparkly Scandi production sheen to the whole thing, well, you've got another pretty solid record.

You'll have to judge for yourself, though, whether 120 Days holds up through 120 plays. Half a dozen did the trick for this listener. B | Kevin Renick

RIYL: Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, krautrock

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